Some Critical Comments on Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ in the Light of Historical Criticism
In memoriam Paul Winter
By Dr. Gerd Lüdemann
Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany
It's a typically strident Lüdemann piece on anti-Judaism in the Gospels and would be a useful piece to set students to provoke discussion. Perhaps I'll circulate my own Jesus and the Gospels class to gauge reactions to it. One minor thing struck me. Lüdemann concludes:
a) Jesus’ death came at the hands of the Romans; b) his execution followed upon Roman legal proceedings, however summary; c) Jesus was condemned for a political crime.I wonder just how strong (b) is given Philo's remarks which are also quoted by Lüdemann:
The Jewish philosopher Philo, an older contemporary of the apostle Paul, quotes from a letter of Agrippa I to the emperor Caligula that Pilate’s administration was characterized by “corruption, acts of violence, robberies, maltreatments, insults, continual executions without trial, endless and intolerable cruelties” (On the Embassy to Gaius 38). [My emphasis]Without looking at any of the other evidence, and taking only Philo and Josephus into account as Lüdemann wishes to do, we could not be sure that Jesus had had even a summary trial from Pilate, could we?